Durham, NC – Kevin White, Duke’s vice president and director of athletics, will retire in August from the position he has held since 2008, university officials announced today.
White will continue to serve as an adjunct professor at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, where he teaches a popular course on sports business.
“This unequivocally represents the most difficult professional decision that I have ever made,” said White. “As I look forward to completing my 47th year in higher education, including teaching, coaching, and administration, it is simply the right time to step aside and provide a distinct opportunity for both new and different voices, and a more contemporary vision.”
White is one of the most experienced, distinguished and honored athletic directors in college sports and oversees a program that includes 27 varsity sports, more than 700 student-athletes, more than 300 coaches and staff, and a physical education and recreation program that touches nearly every Duke student. Under his leadership, Duke has captured eight NCAA championships – women’s tennis in 2009, men’s basketball in 2010 and 2015, men’s lacrosse in 2010, 2013 and 2014, and women’s golf in 2014 and 2019 – and 23 ACC titles. In all, 190 Duke squads advanced to NCAA postseason competition during White’s Duke tenure. Duke annually ranks among the top institutions in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings, which reflect an institution’s all-around strength in intercollegiate athletics.
“Kevin White has been, throughout his extraordinary career, a dynamic and impactful leader in intercollegiate athletics and higher education,” said Duke University President Vincent Price. “His magnificent accomplishments as vice president and director of athletics at Duke built upon an already-secure legacy as a luminary in the world of sport. Kevin has been a treasured member of our senior leadership team, remarkable for his unwavering commitment to our scholar-athletes and to the collaborative pursuit of excellence on and off the field of competition.”
Price said that the university would soon begin a national search for White’s successor.
White’s commitment to academic success is reflected in the strong performance of Duke student-athletes in the classroom and in national measures. In the 2019-20 academic year, 24 of 27 Blue Devil varsity teams earned grade point averages of 3.0 or better during the fall and spring semesters, and Duke established a new league record with 570 ACC Honor Roll selections. Duke has also consistently been at or near the top of the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate and Academic Performance Rate reports, which measure achievement at all NCAA schools, and Duke student-athletes have won Rhodes, Marshall and Fulbright scholarships.
“To be sure, I have been so lucky to serve a number of world class institutions, a zillion terribly gifted student-athletes, the very best coaches in the business, amazing administrative teams and highly successful departments, as well as countless of the most committed benefactors and fans, while being most graciously supported by fellow administrative and faculty colleagues, and specifically, eight college and university presidents,” White said. “Given that, I must convey a very special thank you to Dick Brodhead, who very generously invited me to serve Duke University, and to Vince Price, who inherited a senior citizen Vice President/Director of Athletics and could not have been more supportive and personally accommodating.
“Finally, I must convey a public thank you to my spouse, Jane, with whom I began athletics career back in 1973 as a highly enthusiastic teaching and coaching duo! And, I also want to thank our kids, all five of whom have become esteemed educators in their own rights. Given that, this journey has been extremely gratifying, as well as deeply rewarding.”
White came to Duke after leading the University of Notre Dame’s athletics program for eight years. He previously served as athletics director at Arizona State University, Tulane University, the University of Maine and Loras College in Iowa. He is currently a member of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) Board of Directors and has served in nearly every major leadership role in intercollegiate athletics, including as president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), president of the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association, and chair of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee.
His awards and honors include the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Under Armour AD of the Year Award, the National Football Foundation’s John L. Toner Award, Sports Business Journal’s Athletic Director of the Year Award, Bobby Dodd AD of the Year, and the Carl Maddox Sports Management Award
A graduate of St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., where he competed as a sprinter, White earned a master’s degree in athletics administration from Central Michigan University and a Ph.D. higher education administration from Southern Illinois University. He completed postdoctoral work at Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management. White began his coaching career at Gulf High School in New Port Richey, Fla., coaching cross country and track and assisting in football and wrestling.
“Kevin White is legendary in every sense of the word. Legends like Dr. White have stories of their accomplishments shared and told by many, many people. During our time here at Duke, we would not have had any chance to move the needle with the football program without the talent, drive, and work ethic of Dr. White. He is, without doubt, the most talented individual I’ve encountered during my career in athletics. Karen and I wish he and Jane all the best in retirement; they’ve earned some real beach time! Our gratitude and well wishes extend to the entire family — children, their spouses, and grandchildren. Thank you, Dr. White, for making it all happen! Go Duke!”
– David Cutcliffe, Head Football Coach, Duke University
“College athletics will miss Kevin White. He has been a North Star his entire career and has proven to be one of the best athletic directors in the country for decades. Kevin is a tremendous friend and colleague who I have relied on for counsel on numerous occasions over the years. Simply put, there is no one I respect more. I congratulate Kevin on a truly extraordinary career. Nora and I wish he and Jane all the best in their next chapter.”
– John Swofford, ACC Commissioner
“I have absolutely loved working with Kevin the past 13 years. He’s made Duke Basketball and me better. He’s made Duke Athletics and Duke University better. He’s made all of intercollegiate athletics better for 47 years. No one in college athletics has mentored as many people as Kevin White. Simply put, he is the very best in the business. While I will miss working day-to-day with Kevin immensely, my family and I are so thankful for the amazing friendship and strong partnership we’ve enjoyed with both Kevin and Jane.” – Mike Krzyzewski, Head Men’s Basketball Coach, Duke University